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Cap on council tax benefits up for public debate in Boston

By Boston Target  |  Posted: September 24, 2012

HAVE YOUR SAY: Cllr Peter Bedford

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PEOPLE in Boston are to be asked for their views on proposed changes which will see a cap placed on benefits paid to help claimants with their council tax bills.

Boston Borough Council, which is responsible for collecting council tax on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Police Authority and some town and parish councils, has to make changes to the current council tax benefits system as a result of the Government's Welfare Reform Bill.

Cllr Peter Bedford, leader of Boston Borough Council, said: "All affected by this are being given every opportunity to make their views known.

"Please go to the website and take part in the consultation or come into the council's offices in West Street and ask to see someone from the revenues and benefits office.

"It is important we know your views."

The Government currently gives Boston Borough Council £4.7m per year to support local people through council tax benefits.

In 2013/14 this funding will reduce by around 10 per cent which could cost people on low earnings more than £420.

Currently, around 6,400 people in the borough receive council tax benefits – 3,200 are pensioners and will be protected.

However, Boston labour councillor Paul Kenny believes that if the change is implemented it would be the last straw for many low-paid workers in Boston.

Cllr Kenny said: "Boston Labour councillors believe that a rushed implementation of a new scheme might lead to penalising claimants who already go out to work which has the opposite effect of what the Tory government wants.

"This does not seem joined up with the current emphasis on helping troubled families."

In proposing a revised Council Tax Support Scheme, Boston Borough Council said it aimed to support the most vulnerable people in the community, including pensioners, war pensioners, people with disabilities and families with young children.

Proposals for the scheme that the council is asking the public for views on are:

Council tax benefit payments - The Council Tax Benefit Scheme currently helps people on a low income or income from Department for Work and Pensions benefits to pay their council tax.

Under the proposed scheme, benefit entitlement for working age claimants would continue to be calculated based on similar means-tested rules to the current Council Tax Benefit Scheme and would be credited as a discount to the council tax account.

However, the level of entitlement would be capped at 75 per cent.

The public will be consulted on the changes proposed by the Cabinet.

Anyone who would like to take part in the consultation can visit www.boston.gov.uk/counciltaxsupportsurvey or visit your Boston Borough Council Revenues and Benefits Office.

The consultation ends on November 8, 2012

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